Prayut hungry for foreign funds

Prayut hungry for foreign funds

Premier asks for more Huawei know-how

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (right) greets Ren Zhengfei, founder and chief executive of Huawei Technologies, at Government House yesterday. THANARAK KHUNTON
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (right) greets Ren Zhengfei, founder and chief executive of Huawei Technologies, at Government House yesterday. THANARAK KHUNTON

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday called on foreign and Thai investors to rev up investing in its targeted industries, saying the government over the last two years has rectified and amended rules and regulations to promote and streamline private investment.

Speaking at a seminar yesterday entitled "Thailand 4.0 Means Opportunity Thailand" presented by the Board of Investment, Gen Prayut said private investment will play a vital role in Thailand's economic restructuring, meeting its Thailand 4.0 initiative.

"Thailand is in dire need of stepping up to a value-based or innovation-driven economy to upgrade its competitiveness," the premier said. "Over the last two years, the government has amended rules and regulations to promote private investment, especially through the Investment Promotion Act and the Competitiveness Fund Act for targeted industries."

Gen Prayut said development will focus on five areas: technology, human resource development, infrastructure, entrepreneurship promotion and new targeted industries.

He said technology development will concentrate on the biotechnology, energy, healthcare and medical service sectors.

Human resources in agriculture, light industry and heavy industry must be upgraded to generate income and improve quality of life, Gen Prayut said. Tax measures are set to be introduced to attract talented foreign workers, particularly in areas where the country faces a labour shortage.

He said the government is committed this year to developing key infrastructure projects, especially the double-track rail networks that are to upgrade Thailand's logistics capacity and competitiveness. Thailand also wants to build connectivity with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The government is also pinning its hopes on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which will run through Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao. The corridor has been designated for development as a high-tech industry cluster, with an eye towards becoming Asean's leading economic zone for industrial, infrastructure and urban development.

The project is meant to accommodate the 10 targeted industries being promoted as clusters by the government. Those industries are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

The corridor will also rely on developments in transport infrastructure. The EEC is set to become an Asean water transport hub, linking the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar with Sihanoukville in Cambodia and Vung Tau port in Vietnam.

Investors in the EEC will receive privileges, including land leases for 50 years and extensions of 49 years, visa-free grants for the import of skilled labour or executives, and special tax perks.

"The government is ready to tackle investor obstacles," said Gen Prayut. "Feel free to inform me or Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak if you find any problems or red tape in the investment process."

Mr Somkid said now is an opportune time to invest in Thailand as the economy is projected to grow by 3.5-4% this year, with public debts standing at only 45% of GDP and international reserves worth US$200 billion.

Weerachon Sukhontapatipak, deputy government spokesman, said Gen Prayut asked Huawei Technologies to commit to continuing expanding its investment in Thailand and sharing technology knowhow with Thais during his meeting with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei yesterday.

Mr Ren was participating in the seminar "Searching for Future … Thailand 4.0" held by the Thailand-Chinese Business Council in Bangkok.

Gen Prayut told Mr Ren that because Huawei is a Guangdong-based company, it can extend its areas of collaborations with the Thai government through the Thailand-Guangdong business partnership committee that was set up earlier.

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